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That decade was one of the most momentous in English history- it saw a religious break with the Pope, unprecedented use of parliament, the dissolution of all monasteries, and the coming of the Protestantism which decisively shaped the future of this country. Cromwell was central to all this, but establishing his role with precision, at a distance of nearly 500 years and after the destruction of many of his papers at his own fall, has been notoriously difficult. Diarmaid MacCulloch's biography is much the most complete and persuasive life ever written of this elusive figure, a masterclass in historical detective work, making connections not previously seen. It draws together national and international events, and reveals the channels through which so much of power in early Tudor England flowed. It overturns many received interpretations, for example that Cromwell and Anne Boleyn were allies because of their common religious sympathies, showing how he in fact destroyed her; or that Cromwell was a cynical, 'secular' politician without deep-felt religious commitment. It introduces the many different personalities contributing to these foundational years, all worrying about what MacCulloch calls the 'terrifyingly unpredictable' Henry VIII, and shows how things could easily have turned out differently. MacCulloch's familiarity with the 1520s and 1530s allows readers to feel that they are immersed in all this, that it is going on around them. For a time, the self-made 'ruffian', as he described himself - ruthless, adept in the exercise of power, quietly determined in religious revolution - was master of events. MacCulloch's biography for the first time reveals his true place in the making of modern England and Ireland, for good and ill.

 

Details

ISBN: 9780241952337
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 752
Publication Date: 4 Jul 2019
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 19.8(H) x 12.9(L) x 3.2(W)
Weight (gm): 548

 

Reviews

Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch is one of finest historians in the English-speaking world and preeminent in the area of the English Reformation. He has combined his expertise in 16th-century history with a compelling literary style in his latest book ... the definitive work on Henry VIII's great minister and an extraordinary insight into the politics and religion of the age, and of any age for that matter. Thomas Cromwell's somewhat dark reputation was given a new and bright shine by Hilary Mantel in the Wolf Hall trilogy and this life takes us from the fictional into the authentic; its triumph is that it is just as thrilling and equally stimulating and challenging. A profoundly important book.

-- Rev. Michael Coren * Spectator *
Meticulous and magisterial ... If this is not the definitive biography, I don't know what that would look like -- Peter Marshall * Literary Review *
Triumphant and definitive ... a masterpiece of documentary detective-work, which buzzes with the excitement of a great historian immersed in archives -- Dan Jones * Sunday Times *
A model of classical historical biography at its finest -- Rowan Williams * New Statesman *
The definitive biography ... exhaustively researched and superbly written -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times (Books of the Year) *
The Tudor minister brought to fictional life in Wolf Hall is given a definitive scholarly treatment in this long-awaited, masterful, wry biography -- Simon Heffer * Daily Telegraph (Books of the Year) *

 

Author Biography

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. His Thomas Cranmer (1996) won the Whitbread Biography Award, the James Tait Black Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize; Reformation- Europe's House Divided (2003) won the Wolfson Prize for History and the British Academy Book Prize. A History of Christianity- The First Three Thousand Years and the BBC television series based on it appeared in 2009; the book won the Cundill Prize, the world's largest history prize, in 2010. His television series How God Made the English aired on BBC2 in March 2012. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and was knighted in the New Year's Honours List of 2012.
Thomas Cromwell: A Life
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